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Last Updated on August 30, 2020 by Chenée Lewis
A couple years back, I made an attempt to make cannoli, which are Sicilian pastries consisting of a deep-fried crispy dough filled with a lightly sweet creamy ricotta filling. I shared it with some friends and while their reactions were as generous as possible (“The filling is perfect!”), I knew I had work to do. I’m still working on perfecting my cannoli, but in the meantime I’m so excited to share this no-bake cannoli pie with you! It’s got the classic flavors and textures of cannoli, but SO easy!
It can be a pie or a tart depending on what type of pan you use, but either way this cannoli dessert is incredibly easy to make, and packed with amazing flavor. It’s got a buttery graham cracker crust with a hint of cocoa; a creamy ricotta-based filling with chopped dark chocolate, orange zest, and vanilla; and it’s topped with roasted pistachios and powdered sugar. The flavors are amazing together, and it’s SO easy to make! It’s a no-bake recipe, so you’ll just need to whip it up and let it set in the fridge. Simple as that!
For the cocoa graham cracker crust, you’ll need:
- graham cracker crumbs – you can crush whole graham crackers in a food processor, in a plastic bag using a rolling pin, or you can do what I did and buy store-bought graham cracker crumbs!
- cinnamon – adds a bit of warmth to the crust and works so well with the graham cracker and cocoa flavors!
- unsweetened cocoa powder – many cannoli shell recipes call for a bit of cocoa powder, so I was hoping to recreate some of that flavor!
- sugar – makes the crust nice and sweet
- salted butter – brings out all the flavors, and helps to bring the crust together.
For your ricotta filling, you’ll need:
- full-fat ricotta cheese – it should be strained to eliminate some of the moisture — there are a few ways to strain ricotta cheese, but my shortcut method for this cannoli tart is below! In short, I just wrap it in paper towels a few times to absorb any extra liquid.
- full-fat cream cheese – helps to give the filling a smooth, creamy texture, and since this is a no-bake recipe, the cream cheese helps it solidify a bit better as it chills.
- powdered sugar – it should be sifted, or better yet, measured out with a food scale (we’re using 115g).
- chopped dark chocolate – you can use either semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. I used this bittersweet baking bar.
- orange zest – the hint of orange flavor is what takes this cannoli tart over the edge! It works so well with the dark chocolate and brightens up the ricotta filling.
- chopped roasted pistachios and powdered sugar – to top our cannoli tart, we’re chopping up some pistachios, which are a traditional topping for cannoli. A dusting of powdered sugar also adds a great finishing touch.
You can definitely make this cannoli pie pan, but I love to use a tart pan (making it a cannoli tart! I love making desserts in a tart pan! It gives the crust such a nice, neat fluted look, plus the removable bottom makes them so much easier to assemble, slice, and serve!
Step by Step
This no-bake cannoli pie is so simple! You can have it assembled in just a few minutes and then the hardest part is waiting for it to set up in the fridge! It’s perfect for warm days or any day when you don’t want to turn on the oven.
- First, you’ll make your graham cracker crust, combining the crust ingredients in a bowl and then pressing the mixture into your tart pan. It’ll chill while you make your filling.
- Then, you’ll beat your ricotta and cream cheese together, mix in your powdered sugar, and fold in your chocolate and orange zest. Spread all that in your chilled crust, and then chill the whole thing for a few hours!
- Before you serve your tart, sprinkle it with pistachios and dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!!
Tips for the best cannoli tart
Strain your ricotta. To achieve the best texture, it’s important to eliminate as much moisture as possible from your ricotta. One method is to wrap it in cheesecloth and rest it in a colander inside another bowl. I like to just wrap it in a couple layers of paper towels, let it sit on a plate for about 10 minutes, and repeat with fresh towels a couple more times.
Freeze your crust. While you’re mixing up your filling, place your graham cracker crust in the freezer for about 10 minutes. This helps the butter in the crust to solidify and firms it up to be the perfect vessel for this cannoli tart!
Make-ahead, storage and freezing. Because it needs time to set itself up in the fridge, this cannoli pie is perfect to be made the day before! Overall, it’ll last in the fridge for about two days, but you can also freeze it, well wrapped, for up to 2 months!
Equipment you may need
- 1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 8 tbsp salted butter - melted
- 15 oz whole milk ricotta - strained*
- 4 oz full-fat cream cheese - room temperature
- 1 cup sifted powdered sugar - 115g
- 4 oz finely chopped dark chocolate - semisweet or bittersweet
- 2 tsp orange zest
- Chopped roasted pistachios and powdered sugar - for topping
- Strain ricotta by wrapping in paper towels in a bowl for 30-40 minutes, changing paper towels every ten minutes.
- Combine crumbs, cinnamon cocoa powder, and sugar in a bowl. Add melted butter and mix well until everything is well saturated with butter and holds together when pressed.
- Press crumb mixture into bottom and sides of tart pan, being sure to press into the grooves. Place pan in freezer to chill crust while you make filling.
- In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese until smooth. Add ricotta and mix until smooth and creamy. Mix in powdered sugar.
- Gently fold in chocolate and orange zest until well combined.
- Spread filling into chilled crust and smooth top.
- Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and dust lightly with powdered sugar.
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